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18 Fictional Writers Who Are Obviously Terrible At Writing

Updated October 13, 2018 4.7k votes 811 voters 40.2k views18 items

List RulesVote up the writers who think they're the next Vonnegut but are really more Stephanie Meyer.

Film and television is full of characters who are supposed to be amazing writers, but are they actually good at what they do? In almost every film and television show, audiences are inundated with characters who are supposedly good writers but are clearly terrible. Sometimes their work is bad, and sometimes they don’t even work. But why are there so many bad writers in television? You can chalk it up to bad writers writing bad writers, or to put it another way, the actual writer of the piece is trying to insert themselves into their film under the guise of the voice of their generation. If you’re not sure whether or not you’ve witnessed this trope, just watch anything adapted from a Charles Bukowski novel or literally every episode of Gilmore Girls.

Writers in movies are always bad. Always. It seems like it’s impossible for a writer in a piece of media to actually be a good writer. Most of the time they’re too verbose, laying on the adjectives and metaphors like some kind of person that lays things on other things. The only times that awful writers in TV don’t have suspect writing is when audiences don’t even see their writing. That’s almost worse than terrible writers in movies making everyone hear their terrible prose (or read it - which is what no one wants to do while they’re watching something). Keep reading to see if your favorite fictional author made it on the list. If they did, then go ahead and pen a severe missive and mail it in to the comments. 

  • Photo: Showtime

    In Californication, Hank Moody's one hit book God Hates Us All has set the world on fire and turned the women of Los Angeles into putty into Moody's hands. But it's hard to get to that state when you actually read the writing:

    “You know why love stories have happy endings?” I shake my head. “Because they end too early,” she continues. “They always end right at the kiss. You never have to see all the bullsh*t that comes later. You know, Life.” 

    Woof. Is there anything more tired than writing about the gap between love in real life and love in stories? Calling out happy endings as fake is reeaaaaaaallll original, though.

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  • Photo: Warner Bros.

    Isn't Jack supposed to be writing the great American novel while he takes care of the Overlook Hotel? To be fair, writing can be incredibly tedious. You have to give yourself time to type a million terrible words and hopefully edit them into something great, but Jack doesn't get any work in before the hotel starts to get to him and he tries to kill his family. The only thing he manages to eek out is his famous poem: "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy." Sounds like Jack was dull to begin with. 

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  • Photo: HBO

    Thanks to the fact that Carrie Bradshaw pretty much wrote one article per episode, there's a lot of terrible writing to choose from, so one can't help but wonder... were the writers of Sex and the City actually bad writers? That's such a Carrie thought to have - given the amount of "wondering" that fashion-forward lass does in her writing - but it's just really bad writing. Take, for example: “As I watched Laney tear open a terrycloth baby bib... with the same enthusiasm she once reserved... for tearing off rock stars' pants... I couldn't help but wonder... Was I next?"

    Or how about this classic: “Although, at what point do separate interests become separate bedrooms? I couldn't help but wonder: To be in a couple, do you have to put your single self on a shelf?” 

    Can you help but wonder why this writing is so formulaic?

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  • 4. Gus Cruikshank

    Photo: Netflix

    Gus may not be the worst writer in the world, but he is the worst kind of writer in the world. On Love, the Netflix show brought to you by Judd Apatow, Gus is a struggling writer who works on a teen-witch show as an on-set teacher. It almost takes the entirety of Season 1, but he finally gets a script accepted by the writing staff on the show. However, he freaks out when he discovers that his work has been heavily edited. And Gus, in haughty-ass writer fashion, throws a fit and basically screws up his chance to become a working writer rather than taking the money and credit and parlaying the small opportunity into a job he would rather have. 

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